Spider at Dawn; Butterflies at Sunset by Mori Yuzan

Japanese, died 1917
Meiji period (1868-1912), dated 1903
Ink and color on silk Museum purchase, funds provided by the Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment

A spider dangles from its web against a grey-gold morning sky. A pair of butterflies flutters playfully through the air in the rosy light of sunset. Using minimal visual imagery, these two paintings nevertheless evoke particular moments in time and space – the beginning and end of nighttime. These paintings reflect a distinctly Japanese aesthetic sensibility in their beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. The importance of simplicity, austerity, and intimacy can be appreciated in these compositions which rely heavily on empty space.